Norfolk theatre show brings war to life for children

Library filer dated 01/07/1916 of British infantrymen occupying a shallow trench in a ruined landscape before an advance during the Battle of the Somme. The date of July 1, 1916, is remembered as the bloodiest day in the history of the British Army. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Sunday June 25, 2006. The Battle of the Somme began at 7.30am that day, and by the following morning 19,240 British soldiers had died. Almost 40,000 more British men were wounded, captured or missing in action. See PA story WAR Somme History. Photo credit should read: PA. Library filer dated 01/07/1916 of British infantrymen occupying a shallow trench in a ruined landscape before an advance during the Battle of the Somme. The date of July 1, 1916, is remembered as the bloodiest day in the history of the British Army. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Sunday June 25, 2006. The Battle of the Somme began at 7.30am that day, and by the following morning 19,240 British soldiers had died. Almost 40,000 more British men were wounded, captured or missing in action. See PA story WAR Somme History. Photo credit should read: PA.

Thursday, February 27, 2014
11:19 AM

An innovative show at Norwich’s Theatre Royal will see children stepping back in time to bring Norfolk’s wartime memories to life on the stage.

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The idea is to reveal the stories of people living in the county during the First World War and enable young people to find out more about the period. Some schools will be selected to take part in a special performance, To End All Wars, at the theatre on August 1. The Heritage Lottery Fund is backing the centenary educational programme with more than £67,000 of funding, topped up with a £3,000 grant from Norfolk County Council.The EDP will be a media partner in the project.

Claire Gulliver, who has helped put the education programme together, said: “The focus will be on the cultural, social and economic conditions on the ground and the impact of war at an individual and community level rather than focusing on the Home Front experience.

“Students will engage with the case studies and begin their own exploration into the heritage and relate this to their own lives.”

The first stage of the programme is the creation of a learning programme for Key Stage 1-4 which will include case studies, historical materials, questions, activities and a toolkit for schools to start their own investigations into local heroes using their community war memorial as a base.

Four Norfolk schools will then work with a specialist project artist to create pieces to be performed on stage as part of To End All Wars.

They are North Denes Junior School, Great Yarmouth; Aldborough Primary School in north Norfolk; Arden Grove Infant and Nursery School in Norwich; and Hellesdon High School.

The classroom learning will focus on men, women and children who lived in the county during the war.

The project team also hopes it will enhance understanding of the past.

Ms Gulliver added: “It will also enable young people to understand the significance of Remembrance Day, the role of commemoration and offer them some connection to these events as they are so removed from their everyday lives.”

A website will also be created which will be used both as a resource for teachers and a place where schools can upload and share some of the work they have completed.

Peter Wilson, Norwich Theatre Royal chief executive, said the performance would also be a fantastic opportunity for a number of local schools. He said: “This will be a unique focal point for the culmination of this project and the opportunity for a small number of Norfolk schools to engage creatively with the retelling of these stories and gain an insight into life during the time of the Great War in this significant centenary year.”

Margaret Wilkinson, Norfolk County Council’s cabinet member for communities, said: “The First World War is a major part of Britain’s history and heritage and it’s vital that we continue to educate Norfolk’s young people on its legacy.

“We’re therefore very pleased to have been given the opportunity to support Norwich Theatre Royal’s centenary education project, which will allow the current generation of youngsters in our county to learn about the First World War in a really exciting and interactive way.”

Robyn Llewellyn, head of Heritage Lottery Fund East of England, 
said: “This project gives the younger generation the opportunity to 
understand and commemorate the experiences of those who lived in Norfolk during these turbulent times.”

Have you got a First World War story? Email kim.briscoe@archant.co.uk

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